Croft: Series weekend summary

TURKINGTON MOVES INTO CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD WITH TWO VICTORIES AT CROFT Colin Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi shared the wins in today's three HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire. Turkington won...

TURKINGTON MOVES INTO CHAMPIONSHIP LEAD WITH TWO VICTORIES AT CROFT

Colin Turkington and Fabrizio Giovanardi shared the wins in today's three HiQ MSA British Touring Car Championship races at the Croft circuit in North Yorkshire. Turkington won the opening two races and, heading into the mid-season break, has taken over the championship lead - and comfortably so - from Matt Neal who suffered a tough day which ended in controversy in a clash with old foe Jason Plato.

Just as at Oulton Park two weeks previously, Northern Irishman Turkington was again in near-unstoppable form in his Team RAC BMW, this time dominating both of the first two races from pole position. Each time he was followed across the line by team-mate Stephen Jelley to give the Team RAC squad a pair of dream 1-2 results. Jelley then added a third place in race three to give himself three podium results - before Croft he had never finished in the top three in the BTCC.

Vauxhall driver Giovanardi's win came in the day's third race as hot weather was replaced by heavy rain. It is a result that keeps the Italian maestro firmly in the title hunt as he seeks a third consecutive BTCC Drivers' crown in 2009.

Neal, meanwhile, could manage only a pair of sixth-place finished in races one and two and eighth in race three after briefly being spun around in his Vectra in a collision with Plato's Racing Silverline Chevrolet Lacetti. The two-point lead that Neal had held over Turkington arriving at Croft has therefore turned into a 25-point deficit. Giovanardi is close behind in third while Plato is also very much in touch with the top of the table.

Turkington, aged 27 from Portadown and who celebrated his 200th start in the BTCC in today's second race, said: "I'm delighted with the way it's going, obviously, but I am a bit surprised we were so much quicker than the Vauxhalls today - I thought they'd be closer. But we're no fools. We know they will return in August really strong so we have to try to keep this momentum going. To have the advantage I've got is a real bonus, but we've still got half the season still to go."

Worcestershire's Neal, like Giovanardi seeking a third title this year having won the 2005 and 2006 championships, remained stoic despite his difficult day. The 42-year-old added: "I've still scored decent-ish points and managed to at least salvage something out of race three, no thanks to Jason. When I came back onto the track I just got my head down and got what I could as every point is going to be crucial. The BMWs we knew would be strong here, but Snetterton is next and that's a circuit where we traditionally perform well. There's a long way to go yet..."

Elsewhere, Vauxhall/VX Racing has further increased its lead in the Manufacturers/Constructors championship, as has VXR in the outright Teams' standings. Turkington continues to head the Independent Drivers' championship (that he has won the past two seasons), while Team RAC has stretched its advantage at the top of the Independent Teams' table.

-credit: btcc.net

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Series BTCC
Drivers Fabrizio Giovanardi , Jason Plato , Colin Turkington , Matt Neal , Stephen Jelley